Young woman denies reports she won Miss Iraq contest and returned the title

A young Iraqi woman has denied reports that she won the Miss Iraq beauty pageant and returned the title after receiving threats from Islamic extremists.

"Everything is a big lie and fabricated. I never took part in such an event and did not even know that a beauty pageant had taken place," Tamar Goregian told The Associated Press in a phone interview on Thursday.

Earlier this month, the American TV network ABC reported that Goregian had won the Miss Iraq contest which was held in a Baghdad social club on April 9. She gave back the beauty crown four days later because she was threatened by religious extremists who called her as "the queen of infidels" for taking part in a contest that violated Islamic principles.

The Associated Press reported the ABC story on April 12. A person familiar with the pageant confirmed the report to the AP but insisted on anonymity as he said he also feared retribution from Islamic militants.

Goregian, 29, an engineer and a Christian of Armenian origin, said she came to Jordan on April 10, the day after the contest, to look after her mother who was to undergo an operation in the kingdom.

"Those lies caused me fear and worry," Goregian said Thursday. "The false reports that I have taken part in the pageant contest and (received) threats from Muslim groups could expose me to danger."

"I am afraid to return to Iraq and I'm afraid for my family, who remained in Baghdad," she added.

Asked about the person who confirmed the ABC report to the AP, Goregian insisted that she did not take part in any Miss Iraq contest.

ABC said that after Goregian handed back the award, the title of Miss Iraq went to Silva Shahakian, another Iraqi Christian.

Shahakian was quoted by ABC's "Good Morning America" as saying she would keep the title, but she planned to change her residence for personal safety.

"This chance does not come to every girl. So, I'm lucky to have that. I'm not going to lose it," she said in the program broadcast April 11.

The network said the pageant organizers are hoping to send Shahakian to the Miss Universe contest which is due to be held in Los Angeles on July 23, reports AP,.


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